Our Trip to Belize: Harvesting with Maya Mountain Cacao

By Orissa Agnihotri & Brielle Milano

 

Fostering close relationships with our cacao farmers is a key value at Raaka.  Earlier this May, Raaka’s Director of Sales, Brielle Milano and I had the opportunity to travel to Belize to visit one of the wonderful cacao cooperatives that Raaka sources from - Maya Mountain Cacao.  We spent a week working alongside the MMC team buying wet cacao, giving out samples of Raaka to local cacao farmers, and learning about cacao farming, processing and exporting.

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Chocolate Disparity

A staggering clip from a documentary produced by VPRO Metropolis TV has been circling the Internet this week. The clip shows a cacao farmer from the Ivory Coast tasting chocolate for the first time after many years of farming, highlighting the massive disparity between chocolate consumers and cacao farmers. “Cacao is a multibillion dollar industry, that divides the world between beggars and gluttons”, the narrator explains. He’s sadly on the mark in regards to the majority of mass-produced chocolate; the industry has historically been implicated in human rights violations, including unfair wages and the employment of child labor.  The doc specifically focused on cacao farmers along the Ivory Coast, from where many of the larger chocolate makers source their beans.

 

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Growing Ethically: A Look at Maya Mountain Cacao

We created Raaka to make chocolate that reflects the human element in every bar. Chocolate, a source of joy for many in the West, is often the product of great injustice throughout the developing world. The chocolate industry has historically exploited the two most crucial and meaningful foundations of its business: the farmers and the land.  In the past decade, several major chocolate producers have been linked to child labor and poor wages, while the monoculture model of the cacao farm has been responsible for rampant deforestation. 

Maya Mountain Cacao is helping to change the industry.

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